Three men charged in St. James shooting

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 16, 2002


LUTCHER – A Lutcher man, nicknamed “Friendly,” was fatally shot Friday and detectives quickly arrested three suspects.

Services for Steven Anthony Riley Jr., 19, are planned Saturday at Antioch Baptist Church in Gramercy.

Detectives dammed, drained and dredged a canal at the end of Martin Luther King Avenue in Lutcher, where it is suspected the murder weapon was discarded.

St. James Parish Sheriff Willy Martin Jr. said Riley was walking his pit bull terrier puppy near his home just after 11 p.m. Minutes later, a Saturn with three men pulled alongside. A man got out and shot Riley twice.

A man parked nearby heard the gunshots and told a friend to call the sheriff’s office. The man followed the Saturn to a traffic light in Gramercy and got a partial license plate number. The car was rented to the mother of the driver, and he later surrendered to authorities. The others were captured by deputies. Arrested were Aaron Levar Gant, 24, of 2304 N. Central St., Lutcher; Jamie Rayvon Jackson, 19, of 1573 Tulip St., Gramercy; and Ferdinand Washington Jr., 20, of 132 S. Millet St., Gramercy. The suspects were charged with first-degree murder and are being held without bond.

at the St. James Parish Correctional Center in Convent.

Meanwhile, the canal at the end of Martin Luther King Avenue, with the help of Paulina farmer Ricky Roussel, was dammed off and, with Lutcher Volunteer Fire Department offering their pumps, drained it.

At that point, the muck on the bottom was scooped out and will be examined with metal detectors in an attempt to locate the murder weapon. “It’s a major operation,” Martin commented. “A lot of people came out who normally wouldn’t be involved in a murder investigation.”

Martin said a motive for the shooting death was not clear yet, but it appeared Gant and Riley were involved in some sort of dispute a week ago, possibly a fistfight.

“It looks like Gant had a score to settle,” the sheriff said.

However, Martin had nothing but praise for the man who trailed the shooter and obtained the license plate from the car.

“If they had cooperation like that in Baton Rouge, they’d have that serial killer,” he said.